Whatever stage you are in your career, you need a mentor. A mentor brings out the best in you. It doesn’t really matter how super uber you are. You might be the king of experts in your company but you still need a mentor. A mentor does not only bring out the best in you, he or she also does keep your ego in check so you don’t go out of bounds.
How does a Mentor differ from a Teacher? Simply put, a Teacher is a “push”, a Mentor is a “pull”. In a Teacher-Student scenario, the teacher fills what is lacking and the student is a vessel to be filled in. This is quite different from the Mentor-Apprentice scenario in which the mentor pulls what is already in the bucket and makes it better. The latter should be the kind of relationship that is fostered in any corporate environment at any level.
How do you find your mentor?
Finding a mentor inside your company is easy. Look for those that are passionate in helping others. They are usually the leaders in your company. Remember, the purpose of a mentor is to bring out the best in you. The mentor is not there to feed you the things you don’t know yet. If this is what you need, a training or seminar is where to get it. So the mentor you’re looking for could be in the same group or department you belong – someone who is quite familiar of your skill set and capacity.
What if you cannot find this mentor inside your company?
This is where professional networking becomes useful. Go out and be active around your professional community. Attend and volunteer in events where you think you can get connected with other professionals in your field. Online social networking sites can also be useful in this regard. Your first step is to know and get known by your prospective mentor. Remember, in order for the mentor-apprentice relationship to be effective and beneficial, the mentor must have a knowledge of the skills and capacity of the apprentice.
Maybe you don’t need a mentor now, but you will at some point. When that need arises, do you know how to find that mentor? Or, maybe you are mentoring someone right now. How do you make sure that your apprentice is making the most out of it?